Joshua Nevett in BBC:
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who inspired the now-global movement, has become a primary target. On Wednesday, the 16-year-old arrived in New York after completing her voyage across the Atlantic aboard an environmentally friendly yacht. She faced a barrage of attacks on the way. “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August,” Arron Banks, a businessman and prominent Brexit campaigner, tweeted. While Mr Banks said the tweet was a joke, many were outraged. Ms Thunberg is not the only eco-activist under fire, though. Four young climate campaigners told the BBC of the abuse they have been subjected to. One was compared to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels while another said she had been racially abused.
These environmentalists have asked difficult questions of politicians, and been ruthlessly derided for doing so. With hostility heightening, why are young climate activists facing so much hate?
Since Ms Thunberg’s first solo vigil outside Sweden’s parliament in August 2018 media attention and criticism have gone hand-in-hand. At first, they were told to stay in school. These students were not on strike, one British Conservative MP tweeted, they were truants. Then there were claims that young climate activists were merely the puppets of adults. In February a far-right Dutch lawmaker said students were being influenced by teachers with a political agenda. When Ms Thunberg travelled to the UK in April, several right-wing media outlets wrote polemics against the teen. One of them, an editorial by the website Spiked, mocked the “apocalyptic dread in her eyes”. There were sustained attacks by Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party ahead of the EU elections in May. Posts about Ms Thunberg and climate change spiked on the party’s Facebook page, an investigation, led by Greenpeace Unearthed, found. Weeks later, before her address to the French parliament in July, some far-right and conservative MPs hurled insults at the teen, calling her the “Justin Bieber of ecology” and a “prophetess in shorts”.